Booknado 2016: July

Theme: A book on both of our Goodreads Lists

 

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Ring by Koji Suzuki

Let’s begin with my complicated relationship with J-Horror. Although a horror buff for most of my life, I wasn’t introduced to the concept of J-Horror until I watched the American remake of Ringu in theaters in 2002. Nowadays the cliches of J-Horror (creaky ghosts, long black hair, grudges of all sorts) are well tread, but back in its day The Ring scared the crap out of me. So much so that I took the TV out of my room that night and put it in the hallway. And I won’t lie, I was grown.

One of the blurbs inside the book pronounces Suzuki the “Japanese Stephen King.” I’m wondering if something got lost in translation. To put it bluntly, the prose is bland, the characters are nasty, and misogyny is rampant. There’s a weird and unnecessary “twist” that seems to borrow from The Crying Game amidst muddled themes of hermaphroditism, viral contagion, and paranormal abilities. The clock is always ticking, yet the characters only occasionally seem to feel a sense of urgency.

I don’t remember much about Ringu, but The Ring as a film left an indelible imprint on my psyche. For a horror movie, it did a fine job of evoking atmosphere and dread. It probably ruined me for the book. All along I anticipated the endgame, so I wasn’t even able to enjoy the mystery. I’m prepared to express the rarest of sentiments:

The movie was better than the book. 

Oh yes, I did.

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